The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Non-dairy substitute for powdered milk?

Toe's picture

Non-dairy substitute for powdered milk?

I'm looking to make Peter Reinhart's recipe for Portuguese sweet bread for someone, but they have a dairy allergy and the recipe calls for powdered milk. Reinhart notes that versions made with whole milk or buttermilk don't taste as good as the powdered milk version, so I've adjusted my expectations accordingly.

I know that powdered milk is mainly used to give bread a softer texture, and a little browner crust. So what would be appropriate to achieve a similar result? And texture aside, is there anything that might help approximate the flavor of powdered milk at all?

I was thinking about trying to make a tanzhong roux? I've never tried it, but it seems easy enough. Maybe with a little extra sugar to compensate for what was in the powdered milk?

Or diastatic barley malt? I've never used it, but I think it's used for a similar purpose? How much would be appropriate?

Or could I use something like rice or almond milk? Or maybe even potato water? I don't know if that would work well with a sweet bread.

Any suggestions?

msneuropil's picture

It is common to use Non dairy coffee creamer when making things like icings for wedding allow one to 1 have the flavor and 2 stability.  

It is generally done by using adding boiling water to the amt of creamer needed. Then letting it cool to add to recipe.

I have use coconut milk successfully to replace in recipes for people that are dairy sensitive... I don't know if you can use almond of rice milk...but my son and DIL use it all the time to cook with.   I won't go into the "argument" of why people sensitive to dairy can eat cake with eggs and butter.  LOL  Lets just go to is non dairy coffee creamer.  It works in cakes, icings and quick no reason that I can think of that it wouldn't work with yeasted bread.

When I do not want to open a can of coconut milk...I often use coconut butter...which you can use to make coconut milk.  Coconut butter is NOT the same as coconut oil.

Toe's picture

Remember that there's two entirely different types of dairy sensitivity: lactose intolerance and dairy allergy (which is the issue I'm dealing with).

Something I've noticed is that a lot of 'non-dairy' creamers are actually just lactose-free - they still contain casein, which is a major trigger for milk allergies. Gotta read the ingredients closely!

DesigningWoman's picture

you might find powdered almond and rice milks in health food shops, and powdered coconut milk in Asian grocery stores. If it's cow's milk that's the issue, I've also seen powdered goat and ewe's milks in health-food shops.

Hope that helps. 


MontBaybaker's picture

I'm also on Amazon looking for something for a bread recipe.  A question about that led me to TFL and I saw your post.  They have several different powdered almond, coconut, and brown rice milk powders.  Haven't tried them and can't answer your question about sugar compared to cow's milk.  Good luck, and let us know how it works!

msneuropil's picture

I too have a lot of the powdered coconut milk powders AND creams.

A lot them have glucose and other things in them (as does non dairy creamer)...which is why I started using coconut butter to make small amts of coconut milk.  Plus...I LOVE eating the coconut butter just as it is...nothing but coconut but the mouth feel is wonderful and a good snack for folks on the keto diet.  

That said...for the case of icings...and want to avoid sliding icing on a cakes...and some bakers use non dairy creamer instead of adding milk (if it is called for). 

I simply keep it around cause a lot of canned coconut milk has stuff in it too I don't want and oft times I don't need a full can.  

For a pantry staple...multi use product with a very long stable shelf works great as a dairy substitute. 

David R's picture
David R

Why not just make a different bread recipe that doesn't involve milk?

There isn't a recipe shortage forcing everyone to re-use their old recipes as many times as possible! (Is there?) 😁

Toe's picture

Because I know this is a good recipe, and I don't know if whatever other recipe would be as good, and I'd rather stick to a recipe that I know is good since I'm going to be giving the bread to someone else? Is there something wrong with that?

I mean yeah, I could just drop the powdered milk and have a recipe that doesn't use dairy, but the result would probably be inferior. Besides, I like learning about what different ingredients do in a recipe.

msneuropil's picture

I get it Toe...I have a little OCD thing and I feel like I should always follow the recipe exactly to my ability to honor the author. That can sometimes be a challenge when the recipe comes from someone who calls their ingredients something else.  Before the internet...I had an issue trying to follow a recipe that asked for tricale.  Little did I know I could have used molasses.  It's wonderful to be able to look that stuff up anytime of day or night.

 Strange as it may sound.  I think sometimes how could this little thing matter...but then I tell can I know what the recipe is intended taste like if I start messing with it.

That said...I have no problem "adjusting" the recipe the next time I make it...

So if I find a recipe here...I will follow it exactly the first please don't make me feel foolish and leave something out.  HAHA!   


Colin2's picture

If Reinhart says the effect is due to powdered milk, I doubt there's an easy substitute.  Is butter OK?  In any case there are plenty of eggy, fruity, sweetish festive breads out there:  Carol Field's book has ideas.  Having tried substitutions like this many times in the past, my advice is to let the milk recipe go, and start with one that you can make without compromises.

Toe's picture

My original idea was to make a casatiello - a traditional Easter bread - but that has lots of cheese in it so I had to rule it out. :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

:) if you do decide to cut out the powdered milk, you may have to cut back on water in the recipe.  Just a heads up.

Toe's picture

Doing some searching, King Arthur suggests just using non-dairy milk in place of the water and powdered milk:

Looking at some other sources, almond milk seems to be the most recommended type, followed by soy. Some suggest using unsweetened non-dairy milk, but powdered milk does contain the milk's natural sugar, and besides, I'm making a sweet bread anyway. Powdered milk also contains a decent amount of protein, and I've noticed that soy milk tends to have a lot more protein than almond milk. Dunno if that would matter much for the finished product.